Zdeno Chara,  Travis Moen

Get your game notes: Bruins at Canadiens


Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Montreal Canadiens hosting the Boston Bruins starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— With a win tonight, Boston will advance to the Conference Finals for the 2nd straight year & the 3rd time in the last 4 seasons. Prior to their recent run, the Bruins hadn’t reached the Conference Finals since 1991-92, the end of a 5-year stretch in which they made the Conference Finals 3 straight seasons & 4 of those 5 years (1987-88 – Lost SC, 1989-90 – Lost SC, 1990-91 – Lost Conf. Finals, 1991-92 – Lost Conf. Finals).

— Matt Fraser scored the game-winner in Gm 4 for the Bruins & Carl Soderberg opened the scoring in Gm 5 for Boston with his first-ever postseason goal. Despite the Bruins top line – Milan Lucic, David Krejci & Jarome Iginla – not producing at a high level this series, Boston’s 2nd & 3rd lines have come to play against Montreal:


— The Bruins 3rd line (Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson) combined for 2goals-4assists in Game 5.
— Krejci, the league’s scoring leader 2 of the last 3 playoffs, has 0goals-1assist in the series.
— Smith leads BOS in goals (3) this series; Marchand/Soderberg lead BOS in points (5) this series.

— Montreal is 1-3 in their last 4 elimination games. In the last postseason series between the Canadiens & Bruins (2010-11 first round), Montreal won the first 2 games of the series (at BOS) then went on to lose 3 straight games before a Canadiens victory forced a Game 7 which Boston won at home, 4-3 in OT.

  • Boston is 20-4 all-time in Game 6s when holding a 3-2 series lead.

— Reilly Smith & Jarome Iginla scored power-play goals 32 seconds apart in the opening 1:36 of the second period in Game 5; the Bruins were 0-8 with the man advantage in the first 4 games of the series. Entering Game 5, Montreal had allowed only 2 power-play goals this entire postseason on 15 opportunities. Smith’s goal also snapped the Bruin’s postseason PP drought vs. the Canadiens going back to a Michael Ryder goal in Game 2 of the 2008-09 first round; Boston was 0-38 on the PP vs. Montreal in playoff competition between those 2 goals.

—  Tuukka Rask leads all goalies in GAA (1.70) & SV% (.940) this postseason & is tied in wins with 7 (Fleury – PIT, Lundqvist – NYR, Crawford – CHI). After allowing a total of 6 goals in 5 gms in the 1st Round, Rask allowed 3+ goals in each of Games 1-3 in this series but has since stopped 62 of 64 shots in the last 2 games.

  • Montreal is still the highest scoring team this postseason (3.22 goals/game) but only produced a total of 2 goals in the last 2 games after scoring 3+ goals in each of their first 7 games this postseason.

—  The team to score first has won each game in this series. Boston is 6-0 this postseason when scoring first; Montreal is 5-0. The Bruins were 41-6-2 (.857) during the regular season when scoring first. The Canadiens were 37-5-3 (.856) when scoring first during the regular season.

— P.K. Subban posted another goal in Game 5, his 4th of this postseason (all this series). He leads the Canadiens, and all defensemen, in these playoffs in scoring (12 points – 5th in playoffs). He has 4goals-3assists in this series.

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).

Bad news for Boedker: Coyotes won’t face Sens again in 2015-16


Sorry Mikkel Boedker, you won’t get to face the Ottawa Senators again this season.

OK, it could happen if the speedster is traded from the Arizona Coyotes. He could also face the Senators in the unlikely instance that the two teams fight it out in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Beyond those two possibilities, Saturday night was it, and Boedker must have been licking his chops much like an actual coyote.

For the second straight game, Boedker managed a hat trick against the Senators, helping Arizona beat Ottawa 4-3 last night. His third tally stood as the game-winner in a 4-3 victory.

You can watch all three goals in the video above.

It’s oddly fitting that Boedker has three goals this season … against teams not named the Ottawa Senators.

Hey, Tortorella called the Penguins whiners again

John Tortorella

Don’t forget, the Blue Jackets – Penguins rivalry isn’t just about the bitterness between Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky; John Tortorella can fuel the fire, too.

Torts must not have been happy about the one-game suspension that Dubinsky received for cross-checking Crosby, as he channeled his vintage self in essentially calling the Penguins a bunch of whiners.

You can see from this glorious Sportsnet video, Tortorella said: “Pittsburgh whines enough for the whole league.”

(He also said the Blue Jackets weren’t going to whine by … whining. Good stuff.)

As Puck Daddy notes, this isn’t the first time Torts claimed that the Penguins are whiners.

Both the Blue Jackets and Penguins lost their games on Saturday, but clearly some eyes and ears were still focused on their last confrontation.

In case you’re wondering, the two teams next face off in Pittsburgh on Dec. 21.